Saturday, March 25, 2017

title pic The Anne of Avonlea Costume Completed!

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on February 18, 2012


An Anne of Avonlea Film Costume

At last I have found time to put up the pictures of my “Diana Barry” gown inspired by the 1987 classic film, “Anne of Avonlea”. This breathtaking movie with the pensive music, bouffant hairstyles, and splendid costumes thoroughly captured my imagination when I first saw it as a fourteen-year-old.  Now, many years later, I have done my best to recreate the lovely gown that Diana Barry wore as her going away outfit after her wedding.


If you’ve been following along with my progress on the gown, you will have seen the up-close details on the bodice already.  Since these photos usually show the gown from a distance, you might want to go back and read the first few weeks of sewing progress to see the exact laces I used and how to put this gown together using several different patterns.


With that being said, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves!


Anne Shirley would be proud of those puffed sleeves.
Every “accomplished woman” would have known how to play the piano…


What would we do without mirrors?

I almost like this dress from the back as much as the front view!


I love walking in elegant, trained skirts!
This reminded me so much of an Edwardian film set!


Here I am looking at an antique Edwardian tea gown!

In the photo above, you see an antique Edwardian gown from the early 1900s which would have probably post-dated the dress I’m wearing by several years.  My best guess is that this afternoon dress (known back then as a “lingerie dress” due to the lace insertion and tucks), would have been worn between 1909 and perhaps 1914.  So since this gown I recreated was from a film set in 1902, you could say I was either outdated fashionwise for this picture, or was looking at a dress well ahead of my time. : )  I love looking at Edwardian costumes!  (When I spent my first few minutes in the Victoria & Albert Museum, I decided I would like to get lost in there and never come out.)


Now I’ll do a quick comparison of my version versus the film version, keeping in mind that I have detailed notes about nearly every piece of the garment in my last several posts.


  • Diana Barry’s Going Away Dress had lace at the collar and bodice which had a more homespun, crocheted feel to it.   By tragic necessity, I had to use lace that was daintier (and actually prettier, I think), simply because it was the closest thing in my collection that was from the Edwardian era.


  • The film costume had flat lace down the front of the gown’s bodice, whereas the only lace I had which was remotely similar was actually a curved piece.  Hence when I stitched my lace piece on the front of it flared and ruffled in a lovely flouncy fashion.  However, the curved nature of this lace was actually perfect for the back of the gown, where it is a near replica of the film costume.

A nearby pillar is to blame for the reflection in this photo. : )

  • Finally, the belt is not the exact shape of the one Schuyler Grant (“Diana Barry”) wore, if only because I hadn’t actually tested the pattern for it.  This belt was thrown together at 1:00 am the morning before this photo shoot occurred, and as I absolutely could not find the right shade of pink matte satin, I used an ivory satin fabric instead.  Had I had more time to re-draft the pattern piece, I could have arrived at something closer to the original belt shape, but it still has that definite Edwardian look to it!

  • And if you’re very picky, you’ll notice that I was not able to locate any such back closure for the belt as Martha Mann chose for the movie costume.  Though I hunted far and wide, I had to settle for a nickel-plated hook closure which I decorated with lavender ribbon rosebuds.  The original closure was a mixture between a buckle and a butterfly clip, but at least I came close.

I gave detailed instructions over the last months on how to sew this dress, but the main patterns I used were: The Beatrix Skirt (which I added a waistband to), the Edwardian Shirtwaist (which I greatly altered to fit this design), and the upper sleeves came from the “Liesl’s Dancing Dress” pattern which easily fit into a cuff pattern I drafted myself.  As mentioned above, the belt pattern was drafted for this project as well. I absolutely loved wearing this costume!  With the puffed sleeves, pearl buttons up the cuffs, fitted waist, pouter pigeon bodice, and trained skirt, I felt like I’d just stepped back in time at least one hundred years.  I was fully decked out in Edwardian garb, right down to an embroidered petticoat, corset, and old fashioned boots.  I’ve put more pictures over on the Edelweiss Patterns Facebook page, and I would love to hear your thoughts on this outfit!  

Happy sewing!


(Please note: All Anne of Avonlea movie stills are copyright by Sullivan Entertainment.  All other photographs belong solely to Edelweiss Patterns and may not be used in any form without written permission from the author. )

title pic Diana Barry Sneak Peek & a Last Minute Wedding

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on February 9, 2012

On Tuesday morning, I went as scheduled to one of my favorite locations for historical costume pictures and spent a couple of the most delightful hours having photographs taken in my “Anne of Avonlea” Diana Barry gown.  When I came back home, I spent a good several hours sorting through all the shots, making lighting adjustments to the pictures, and sizing them down to work on the blog.  When I went to bed on Tuesday evening, I figured that I would spend the majority of the next day writing and posting all the gorgeous pictures which had been taken at the mansion.
On Wednesday morning, the first news I was greeted with was that my engaged brother and his college sweetheart had decided to get married this week – and preferably that night!  Well, it would have been impossible to put together a wedding in one day (minor details such as the bride’s family being 2,000 miles away stood in their path), but we called a few friends and found a way to make it work just two days later!  So that day I took my future sister-in-law shopping for last-minute wedding supplies and necessary accessories, and we decided that I would make my own bridesmaid dress since her dress of choice from David’s Bridal would have taken several weeks to order.
The bride’s wedding dress was rush-processed at the alterations store back in Indiana, and her parents are heading out tomorrow morning with the gown in tow for the Friday evening wedding.  Thankfully my own dear mother is excellent at planning ahead, and had immediately decided upon her mother-of-the-groom attire shortly after the engagement was announced.  My brother and his best man will wear black suits, and my bridesmaid dress will be a royal purple (David’s Bridal calls the shade “Regency”).

The happily engaged couple!

As far as the details go, we knew of a church that was not booked for Friday night, so amazingly the location was quickly settled.  My father (an ordained minister who has performed a multitude of weddings!) will officiate the ceremony, an old friend of my brothers who has a degree in videography will tape the event, and an uncle who has a knack for photography will be on hand to lend his services.  My little cousin is going to have a purple dress purchased for her just in time for her to walk down the aisle as the flower girl, and my official job is to decorate the premises!
So if you could see me the next twenty four hours, I will be doing some alterations to my mother’s gown, making about three thousand tulle bows and rosettes for the decorations, sewing my dress in a couple of short hours, helping the engaged couple move into their new apartment, and hopefully curling my hair!    I think I have in mind what I’d like to make, and I believe I will be able to use a standard pattern for it.  The design I’ve always thought ideal for a bridesmaid dress is very similar to this one that Jessica McDonald sewed for her sister’s wedding in 2010.  I will certainly be posting wedding pictures, but first I wanted to give you a sneak peek of the Diana Barry dress that I have been so excited to share.
There is a ridiculous amount of detail on the front of the gown, and the pictures are absolutely fabulous, but I’m afraid I won’t have time to put the rest of them up until after the wedding this weekend.
I am so excited for the marriage and for my dear brother and sister-in-law.  It is certainly not the first last-minute  wedding I’ve been the maid of honor for, as a couple of years ago a friend of mine announced she was getting married in a couple of weeks and needed me to sew my dress and her veil.  This time I have two days instead of two weeks, but I’m sure it will be wonderful!  You really don’t need a whole year to plan a wedding.
Last week my best friend from childhood announced that she is in a relationship with someone and wants me to be her maid of honor when the wedding takes place…  I was delighted of course, but all I have to say is that she’d better give me a little bit of notice!  : )  I will be making her gown, but I will certainly need much longer than two days to put the whole thing together! : )
So thank you for bearing with me as my schedule has turned upside down, and I would appreciate prayers for the wedding to go smoothly!

title pic Diana Barry’s Walking Skirt

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on February 4, 2012

Of all the exquisite gowns from the Edwardian era, I think that none were so elegant and understated as a fitted walking skirt which trailed behind the wearer in a slight train when she walked.  Anne Shirley and Diana Barry looked so graceful in their flowing skirts from Anne of Avonlea, and Diana Barry’s “going away” dress (which I have been excitedly recreating) is certainly no exception!


The pattern cover is copyright by

While I had nearly finished the bodice for Diana Barry’s lovely going away ensemble, the skirt remained to be sewn in what I was hoping would be a very easy task.  And I was not disappointed!
Initially my observations of Diana’s skirt led me to believe that I would have to draft it entirely from scratch since it didn’t have too many visible seams or skirt gores.  Perhaps it’s just the fact that her dress is shown for such a short scene, but somehow it didn’t look like the skirt had many gores in it.  But then I thought, “Who is really going to mind if I use an easy published pattern since no one can see the seams on the film costume anyhow?”  So I proceeded to sew the skirt using the terrific nine-gore “Beatrix Skirt Pattern” from Sense & Sensibility Patterns.  Please note that these pictures do not show the final “v” belt which will be worn over the skirt’s waistband.  But it will look just like the movie costume once it is all worn as one outfit!
I don’t know when I’ve had an easier pattern to work with – the skirt came together in a few hours, plus a couple hours of hemming by hand.  While this pattern was based on an original 1909 design and the Anne of Avonlea movie suggests that it takes place in 1902 (thanks to a poster in a “Kingsport” scene), I think it works just perfectly for Anne Shirley reproductions!

Thank God for Gingher pinking shears!

And speaking of seams, I am so glad I learned how to press seams properly many years ago!  You would not believe what a huge difference it makes in “before” and “after” pictures.  And since this skirt has nine gores (and therefore lots of prominent seams!) it is crucial that the seams lay flat, are well pressed, and are as unnoticeable as possible.  You can see below how the seams looked before and after pressing, and if you have never learned the “five-step pressing method”, I would highly recommend that you read the tutorial I wrote here.

I almost hate to put this picture online, but it shows how important pressing is!

I absolutely love the way this skirt fits!  I have rarely found a skirt pattern that is so flattering and has such a perfect blend of fit and ease.  It is almost snug in the waist area, then flares into the most becoming a-line silhouette.
In the back I slightly altered the pleats to resemble the original movie costume.  You can really adjust the fullness in back in any way you want, or you can even cut the skirt out so that it’s flat in the back without any pleating.  But personally I think it is very elegant to include the pleats which drape into elegant folds towards the lower part of the skirt.
The only change I made to the pattern was adding a waistband.  By simply taking your waist measurement and adding a couple inches for seam allowances and ease, then determining how tall you want the band to be (times two plus 1 1/4″ for seams) you can instantly draft the pattern piece and cut out a rectangular piece according to these dimensions.  I like to interface only one half of the long side of the waistband so that it has a natural fold line for the perfect crease down the center.
When I took these photographs on the mannequin, I hadn’t yet had time to hem it by hand, so I just folded the edges under in the pictures.  But it looks much better since yesterday!  I always do my hand hemming while I’m watching a film of some sort, and yesterday the selection of choice was the fabulous 2009 “Emma” by BBC.  This four hour drama was the perfect amount of time for me to sew tiny, nearly invisible hand stitches around the lower edge of the skirt and attach the antique lace to the bodice.  My mother and I (along with my future sister-in-law) had the most enjoyable afternoon watching this period Jane Austen film, and it certainly helped the hand sewing pass quicker!
You’ll notice that I did not put the Diana Barry bodice on the dress form for these pictures, since I want it to be more of a surprise for the final photo shoot.  But I did pull out my Edwardian shirtwaist that I made last summer and tucked it into the skirt.  I really think you could almost wear this as an outfit, even if you didn’t have the film bodice!  That’s the thing I love so much about the Edwardian era, that unlike previous decades where each outfit was meant to stand alone, you could mix and match different blouses and skirts for an entire wardrobe of elegant outfits.
Well, I have rambled on for long enough and should go sew the belt to finish up this costume, but assuming I can have the photo shoot on the intended day, you can expect full costume pictures to be online next week!
Happy sewing,